Canceling a trip

We’re early-bird bookers. We like to plan our trips months ahead to make sure we book the cheapest flights and get the best deals on accommodation. It keeps us excited for the trip itself and we do our research about the place while we wait for the lucky day.

This one time, though, we impulsively booked a flight to Marrakech. I had been telling Joan for years that I want to see Morocco because I’m just lured by its postcard-ready beauty, the markets, and the cuisine.

When Ryanair offered direct flights from Berlin to Marrakech, we immediately gave in. I have been waiting for this moment for God knows how long, and we have been brainstorming about places to go to in autumn anyway because I already filed for vacation leave. November is one of those months that doesn’t seem to go well with most places. I know Germany is pretty awful this time of the year, when all the leaves have fallen and become mushy from all the rain and the days are just wet and cold, but not cold enough for snowfall, just cold enough for three layers of clothing. Morocco, on the other hand, is supposed to be really nice in November. And everything just seemed to have fallen into place…

Joan browsed some travel forums about Marrakech, adding a very important keyword: women.

We already knew about the men offering to help you find your way when you get lost in the maze of the souks and insisting for some cash in return. Or the snake-charmers that demand money if they catch you taking a photo of them. These aren’t things that could scare us, really, we know that in most cases it’s smarter to just ignore strangers that try to intimidate us.

Still, something did not seem right. My aunt and uncle had been to Morocco twice and they can only say positive things about the experience. A newly married woman wrote in a forum about how romantic the city is and that she will convince her husband to visit yearly. A solo male traveler talked about the fun he had haggling with the vendors and about how he could just walk around the souk all day and forget about the rest of the world. All of these experiences are tempting, to say the least. But what about…

Us?

What about the women that travel alone or with other women? With their sisters? Their girl friends? Their experiences had been so much different.

Catcalling. MARRIAGE PROPOSALS. groped. Harassment.

Although they all said that the overall experience in the city was really good, it still felt like walking into a trap. But we already prepared ourselves for the worst and just accepted the fact that we had to be more open and understanding and decided to just think about all the good memories we could get off this trip. And the things mentioned above? They said you’ll get used to it after a few days.

But as you must have already taken off the title of this post, we still canceled this trip. Sure, we were already dreading all the things I’ve mentioned above but these alone would not have stopped us from experiencing a new place. I am sure of it that we will be traveling to Morocco some other time, maybe with even more preparation and perhaps in a larger group, too. No, what really stopped us from taking this trip is the fact that we were given the opportunity to get a full refund on our flights, and we’re glad to not have to throw 250 € away had we really decided on not going just because we were born female.

It was when Ryanair decided to implement their new baggage policy. Everyone who made a booking before September 1st for a flight from November 1st onwards has the right to get a full refund on their booking should they not be in favor of this new policy (but only until September 14th, which is in the past by the time I publish this post). Yes, so they found yet another way to make life harder for their passengers. Starting November, everyone who wants to bring a small cabin luggage will have to pay extra for it and stand in line on the check-in counter and drop that bag off. You may only bring your handbag on board (thank God, whew), and it has to fit under the seat in front of you otherwise you will be charged 25 € at the gate. Of course, there is still priority booking but you pay more for that as well and the slots are limited.

So I guess I’ve finally come to a point in my life where I say I’m never flying Ryanair ever (again). I’m that person now. It’s too bad because they offer direct flights to really cool destinations and the convenient SXF-CGN line that brought me to Mum a couple of times but this is just not something I can tolerate. They gave us a full refund without much hassle and we also decided on another destination already and booked our flights with other airlines.

Good thing before all this rubbish started, we were able to visit some really great countries like Croatia and Romania, which we otherwise wouldn’t have reached if not for their direct flights from our city and for a really good deal, too.

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